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That people, victor once, now vile and base ;
Deservedly made vassal; who, once just,
Frugal & mild, & temperate, conquer'd well,
But govern ill the nations under yoke,
Peeling their provinces, exhausted all
By lust and rapine; first ambitious grown
of triumph, that insulting vanity :
Then cruel, by their sports to blood inur'd
Of fighting beasts, & men to beasts expos'd ;
Luxurious by their wealth, & greedier still,
And from the daily scene effeminate.
What wise & valiant man would seek to free
These, thus degenerate, by themselves enslav'd ?
Or could of inward slaves make outward free?
Know therefore, when my season comes to sit
On David's throne, it shall be like a tree
Spreading and overshadowing all the earth;
Or as a stone, that shall to pieces dash
All monarchies besides throughout the world ;
And of my kingdom there shall be no end :
Means there shall be to this; but what the means,
Is not for thee to know, nor me to tell.”
To whom the Tempter, impudent, replied.
“I see all offers made by me how slight
Thou valuest, because offer'd, and reject'st :
Nothing will please the difficult and nice,
Or nothing more than still to contradict :
On the other side know also thou, that I
On what I offer set as high esteem,
Nor what I part with mean to give for nought;
All these, which in a moment thou behold'st,
The kingdoms of the world, to thee I give,
For, given to me, I give to whom I please,
No trifle; yet with this reserve, not else,
On this condition, if thou wilt fall down,
And worship me as thy superior lord,
Easily done, and hold them all of me;
For what can less so great a gift deserve ?"
Whom thus our Saviour answer'd with disdain.
“I never lik'd thy talk, thy offers less ;
Now both abhor, since thou hast dar'd to utter
The abominable terms, impious condition :
But I endure the time, till which expir'd
Thou hast permission on me. It is written,
The first of all commandments, “Thou shalt worslup
The Lord thy God, and only him shalt serve ;'
And dar’st thou to the Son of God propo'ınd
To worship thee accurs’d ? now more accurs'd
For this attempt, bolder than that on Eve,
And more blasphemous; which expect to rue.
The kingdoms of the world to thee were given ?
Permitted rather, and by thee usurp'd ;
Other donation none thou canst produce.
If given, by whom but by the King of kings,
God over all supreme? If given to thee,
By thee how fairly is the Giver now
Repaid ! But gratitude in thee is lost
Long since. Wert thou so void of fear or shame,
As offer them to me, the Son of God?
To me my own, on such abhorred pact,
That I fall down and worship thee as God?
Get thee behind me; plain thou now appear'st
That Evil one, Satan for ever damn'd.”
To whom the Fiend, with fear abash'd, replied.
“ Be not so sore offended, Son of God,
Though Sons of God both Angels are & Men,
If I, to try whether in higher sort
Than these thou bear’st that title, have propos'd
What both from Men and Angels I receive,
Tetrarchs of fire, air, food, and on the earth,
Nations beside from all the quarter'd winds.
God of this world inyok'd, and world beneath :
Who then thou art, whose coming is foretold
To me most fatal, me it most concerns ;
The trial hath indamag'd thee no way,
Rather more honour left and more esteem;
Me nought advantag'd, missing what I aim'd.
Therefore let pass, as they are transitory,
The kingdoms of this world ; I shall no more
Advise thee ; gain them as thou canst, or not.
And thou thyself seem'st otherwise inclin'd
Than to a worldly crown; addicted more
To contemplation and profound dispute,
As by that early action may be judg'd,
When, slipping from thy mother's eye, thou went'st
Alone into the temple, there wast found
Among the gravest Rabbies, disputant
On points and questions fitting Moses' chair,
Teaching, not taught. The childhood shows the man,
As morning shows the day: be famous then
By wisdom; as thy empire must extend,
So let extend thy mind o'er all the world
In knowledge, all things in it comprehend.
All knowledge is not couch'd in Moses' law,
The Pentateuch, or what the Prophets wrote ;
The Gentiles also know, and write, and teach
To admiration, led by Nature's light,
And with the Gentiles much thou must converse,
Ruling them by persuasion, as thou mean’st;
Without their learning, how wilt thou with them,
Or they with thee, hold conversation meet?
How wilt thou reason with them, how refute
Their idolisms, traditions, paradoxes ?
Error by his own arms is best evinc'd.
Look once more, ere we leave this specular mount,
Westward, much nearer by south west, behold;
Where on the Ægean shore a city stands,
Built nobly, pure the air, and light the soil ;
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
And eloquence, native to famous wits
Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
City or suburban, studious walks and shades.
See there the olive grove of Academe,
Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long ;
There flowery hill Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees' industrious murmur, oft invites
To studious musing; there Ilissus rolls
His whispering stream: within the walls, then view
The schools of ancient sages; his, who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Lyceum there, and painted Stoa next :
There shalt thou hear & learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand; and various-measur’d verse,
Æolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
And his, who gave them breath, but higher sung
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer callid,
poem Phæbus challeng'd for his own;
Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught
In Chorus or lambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence, with delight receiv'd
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of fate, and chance, and change in human life,
High actions and high passions best describing:
Thence to the famous orators repair,
Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democraty,
Shook th' arsenal, and fulmin'd over Greece
To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne :
To sage Philosophy next lend thine ear,
From Heaven descended to the low-roof'd house
Of Socrates; see there his tenement,
Whom well inspir'd the oracle pronounc'd
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams, that water'd all the schools
Of Academics old and new, with those
Surnam'd Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe;
These here revolve, or, as thou lik’st, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom's weight;
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire join’d.”
To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied.
“ Think not but that I know these things, or think
I know them not; not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought : he, who receives
Light from above, from the fountain of light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all profess’d
To know this only, that he nothing knew;
The next to fabling fell, and smooth conceits;
A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense;
Others in virtue plac'd felicity,
But virtue join'd with riches and long life;
In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last in philosophic pride,
By him call’d virtue; and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all-possessing
Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain, or torment, death and life,
Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he can,
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas! what can they teach, and not mislead,
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the world began, and how man fell
Degraded by himself, on grace depending ?
Much of the soul they talk, but all awry,
And in themselves seek virtue, & to themselves
4ll glory arrogate, to God give none;
Rather accuse him under usual names,
Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite
Of mortal things. Who therefore seeks in these
True wisdom, finds her not; or, by delusion,
Far worse, her false resemblance only meets
An empty cloud. However, many books,
Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
And what he brings what needs he elsewhere seek ?
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
Deep vers'd in books, and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge;
As children gathering pebbles on the shore.
Or, if I would delight my private hours
With music or with poem, where, so soon
As in our native language, can I find
That solace ? All our law and story strew'd
With hymns, our pslams with artful terms inscrib'd,
Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon
That pleas'd so well our victors' ear, declare
That rather Greece from us these arts deriv'd ;
Illimitated, while they loudest sing
The vices of their deities, and their own,
In fable, hymn, or song, so personating
Their gods ridiculous, & themselves past shame.
Remove their swelling epithets, thick laid
As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,
Thin sown with aught of profit or delight,
Will far be found unworthy to compare
With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling,
Where God is praised aright, and godlike men,
The Holiest of Holies, and his saints,
Such are from God inspir’d, not such from thee,
Unless where moral virtue is express’d
By light of nature, not in all quite lost.
Their orators thou then extoll'st, as those
The top of eloquence; statists indeed,
And lovers of their country, as may seem;
But herein to our prophets far beneath,
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government,
In their majestic unaffected style,
Than all th' oratory of Greece and Rome.
In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt,
What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,
What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;
These only with our law best form a king."
So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now
Quite at a loss, for all his darts were spent,